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In an effort to demystify the process of planning and buying the perfect engagement ring for your partner, we spoke to some ring and wedding experts who break down everything you need to know to find an ideal engagement ring that will soon have your significant other saying — scratch that, screaming — “yes.”

Best places to buy engagement rings

First and foremost, this is not a process you want to rush. Your ring can take anywhere from a few days to upward of six weeks to produce (it will err on the longer side if it’s a bespoke creation). There are tons of online retailers to browse, such as MejuriKayJaredWith ClarityZales and more. Brilliant Earth can even help you custom-design your ring or buy diamonds individually for it. And if you’re purchasing your ring online, some sites, such as Verlas, will allow you to try up to three pieces at home for 15 days before you make your final decision, a critical process that will also extend your ring shopping timeline.

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When we polled jewelry experts from a variety of brands, all unanimously said research was the key. “Start by researching the four Cs: color, carat, cut and clarity,” says Tonia Zehrer, senior vice president and chief merchandising officer at KayJared and Zales. “While these terms may be vaguely familiar to you, the meaning behind each of them will help immensely when beginning to research diamonds, as they determine the value of the diamond.”

What kind of engagement ring should you buy?

Olivia Landau, founder of direct-to-consumer engagement ring brand The Clear Cut, says social media can be your best friend during the inspiration process. “Pay attention and take notes when your partner drops hints, and if possible, look at their Instagram saves or Pinterest board to get some initial ideas,” she says. “Be sure to also consult their close friends and family. This will all help greatly narrow down your search.”

Wedding expert Lauren Grech, CEO and co-founder of event management company LLG Events, also suggests making a day out of ring shopping. “Surprise them by going to lunch near a jeweler in your area,” she says. “Make it casual, and suggest stopping in the store as you walk by. However, the partner who’s proposing should have stopped in the store days prior, talked to a representative that you feel comfortable with and picked out a few rings that you like. Then when you show up on your date, that representative will know to casually pull out the rings you were interested in.”

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Regardless of your sleuthing methods, remember that an engagement ring should be a reflection of the person wearing it. As Justine Lançon, the creative director at the jewelry brand Mejuri, puts it, “Your engagement ring should be like any other piece you purchase — something that suits your personal style and you’d wear every day.”

How expensive are engagement rings?

That being said, rings come in all shapes and sizes, as well as budgets, and as all our experts tell us, the money conversation should take place between both partners ahead of purchasing a ring. “Choosing a ring is ultimately a joint decision, and often part of a larger conversation regarding wedding budgets,” Lançon says.

When you’re finishing up the purchase of your engagement ring, make sure you get a certificate. Not only will it help you authenticate the ring, but if it unfortunately gets stolen or lost, the certificate can speak to the value of the ring for insurance purposes. As Grech suggests, the certificate should be considered “even more valuable than the diamond itself.”

As Lançon told us, “Being open to less-traditional designs and bands is becoming especially trendy, although engraving continues to be one of the most important details for our consumers.” This includes different shapes of diamonds, nontraditional gemstones and different-colored bands, such as rose gold.

Neil Lane Diamond Engagement Ring ($2,099.99, originally $3,499.99; kay.com)

Neil Lane Diamond Engagement Ring
Kay
Neil Lane Diamond Engagement Ring

“Fancy shaped diamonds are a growing trend among brides this year, with pear among the most popular shapes,” Zehrer says. This ring features a pear-shaped diamond surrounded by a frame of round diamonds that’ll never go out of style.

Pear-Shaped Blue and White Sapphire and Diamond Ring ($454.30, originally $649; zales.com)

Pear-Shaped Blue and White Sapphire and Diamond Ring
Zales
Pear-Shaped Blue and White Sapphire and Diamond Ring

A nontraditional pear-shaped ring that has caught our eye is this vintage design, which showcases a blue sapphire stone front and center.

Versailles Diamond Engagement Ring (starting at $1,890; brilliantearth.com)

Versailles Diamond Engagement Ring
Brilliant Earth
Versailles Diamond Engagement Ring

The online jewelry retailer Brilliant Earth allows you to customize your ring, so you can get this gorgeous one with different-shaped diamonds such as oval, pear, princess and more.

Petite Twisted Vine Diamond Engagement Ring (starting at $1,250; brilliantearth.com)

Petite Twisted Vine Diamond Engagement Ring
Brilliant Earth
Petite Twisted Vine Diamond Engagement Ring

Briliant Earth’s current engagement ring bestseller features a twisted band with diamond accents and a center, oval-shaped stone.

Belloring Vintage Morganite Engagement Ring Set (starting at $525.70, originally starting at $751; etsy.com)

Belloring Vintage Morganite Engagement Ring Set
Etsy
Belloring Vintage Morganite Engagement Ring Set

Don’t feel pressured to get a diamond ring, though. Morganite is an excellent alternative that won’t break the bank, has great clarity and often comes in a blush hue like this one.

Morganite Waverly Diamond Ring ($2,440; brilliantearth.com)

Morganite Waverly Diamond Ring
Brilliant Earth
Morganite Waverly Diamond Ring

A central, round morganite stone is the centerpiece of this ring, and it’s surrounded by a halo of diamonds and set on a diamond band.

Sofia Zakia Wandering Star Ring, Opal ($1,088, originally $1,280; catbirdnyc.com)

Sofia Zakia Wander Star Ring, Opal
Catbird
Sofia Zakia Wandering Star Ring, Opal

This is the ultimate epic engagement ring. Made in Montreal, this romantic ring features a center opal and 10 brilliant diamonds.

Mejuri Diamonds Cluster Ring ($2,200; mejuri.com)

Mejuri Diamonds Cluster Ring
Mejuri
Mejuri Diamonds Cluster Ring

Shoppers should always know what to expect before buying a ring, Mejuri’s Lançon says.

“When shopping online, we’re always huge proponents of doing your research and buying from a brand you trust,” she says. “Our customers know when they buy a Mejuri engagement ring, they’re getting a high-quality, ethically handmade piece. We offer a two-year warranty and have clear practices regarding social responsibility and ethical stone sourcing.”

Solitaire Round Morganite Infinity Ring (starting at $1,106; angara.com)

Solitaire Round Morganite Infinity Ring
Angara
Solitaire Round Morganite Infinity Ring

With a band that features the infinity symbol and a morganite gemstone in a lovely shade of pink, this ring is as romantic as it gets.

Rose Gold Diamond Engagement Ring ($1,149.99, originally $2,299.99; kay.com)

Rose Gold Diamond Engagement Ring
Kay
Rose Gold Diamond Engagement Ring

Pear isn’t the only shape that’s been booming in recent years, says Landau. “Oval diamonds have been one of the most popular shapes for a few years now,” she says. “Blake Lively started this trend with her engagement ring, and since then, many celebrities like Hailey Bieber and Sarah Hyland were engaged with oval diamonds. This shape is great because they are very finger-flattering.”

You can’t go wrong with this romantic rose gold pick.

GioielliRings Hidden Halo Engagement Ring (starting at $1,016, originally starting at $1,270; etsy.com)

Gioielli Rings Hidden Halo Engagement Ring
Etsy
Gioielli Rings Hidden Halo Engagement Ring

Additionally, a hidden halo (or pave diamonds that wrap around the center gem) is a “fun detail that has become very popular, as it doesn’t change the overall look of a ring but gives a flash of sparkle from the side,” Landau says. This ring features a moissanite center gem with a diamond or moissanite hidden halo of your choosing.

Vera Wang Wish Diamonds Bridal Set ($4,799.98; jared.com)

Jared
Vera Wang Wish Diamonds Bridal Set

We typically see colored gems in the center, so we’re loving that the band in this ring set steals the show. It features diamonds and blue sapphires for an unmatched sparkle.

Cultured Freshwater Pearl and Diamond Sunburst Frame Ring ($1,049.30, originally $1,499; zales.com)

Cultured Freshwater Pearl and Diamond Sunburst Frame Ring
Zales
Cultured Freshwater Pearl and Diamond Sunburst Frame Ring

Lançon has also seen an influx of people buying engagement rings sans any proposal. “We’re also seeing more and more consumers buying engagement rings and wearing them just because,” she says.

A pearl and diamond ring like this one will be a great addition to your jewelry box — engaged or not.

NYFineJewelry Vintage Moissanite Engagement Ring (starting at $406.80, originally starting at $678; etsy.com)

NYFineJewelry Vintage Moissanite Engagement Ring
Etsy
NYFineJewelry Vintage Moissanite Engagement Ring

Moissanite is another alternative for the one who doesn’t care about diamonds or wants a glistening ring without breaking the bank. We’re in love with this ring for its unique art deco style that’s sure to make your partner smile.

Enthrall Lab Diamond Ring ($1,107, originally $1,230; withclarity.com)

Enthrall Lab Diamond Ring
With Clarity
Enthrall Lab Diamond Ring

A simple ring will bring a sparkle of elegance to every day. Grab this one, which features a timeless design consisting of one central oval lab-grown diamond and pave diamonds all around the 14-karat white gold band.

Lucida Natural Diamond Ring ($1,674, originally $1,860; withclarity.com)

Lucida Natural Diamond Ring
With Clarity
Lucida Natural Diamond Ring

With its twisted diamond band and oval diamond centerpiece, which is surrounded by a halo of more diamonds, this is one beautiful piece for under $2,000.

Signature Princess Halo Ring ($626; verlas.com)

Signature Princes Halo Ring
Verlas
Signature Princes Halo Ring

For a design that comes with a micro-pave diamond band, this classic engagement ring fits the bill. Better yet, the princess cut is also a popular engagement ring shape to consider.

Pnina Tornai Perfectly Us Diamond Engagement Ring ($2,999.99; jared.com)

Pnina Tornai Perfectly Us Diamond Engagement Ring
Jared
Pnina Tornai Perfectly Us Diamond Engagement Ring

The fashion lover in your life will appreciate this open-shank engagement ring. Made with 14-karat two-tone gold, it features a princess-cut diamond across from a round diamond for the best of both worlds.

Engagement rings for men

Mejuri Men’s Thin Diamond Band ($510; mejuri.com)

Men's Thin Diamond Band
Mejuri
Men's Thin Diamond Band

Mejuri’s line of men’s bands works beautifully for both weddings and engagements. All the designs are crafted from 14-karat solid gold (white or yellow) and can be engraved for a personalized touch. This band features a small black, ethically sourced diamond.

Men’s Diamond Wedding Band ($1,274.25, originally $1,699; kay.com)

Men's Diamond Wedding Band
Kay
Men's Diamond Wedding Band

This eye-catching wedding band has a hint of sparkle. Made with 14-karat white gold, it features a traditional band with two lines of little round diamonds.

Men’s Comfort Fit Wedding Band ($699.30, originally $999; zales.com)

Men's Comfort Fit Wedding Band
Zales
Men's Comfort Fit Wedding Band

If a simple wedding band is preferred, this is a great option. It has a classic look made in 14-karat gold and features rolled edges that’ll fit comfortably around his finger.